Air Pollution and Cognitive Function: Evidence from Crop Production Cycles

50 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2017 Last revised: 3 Sep 2018

See all articles by Wangyang Lai

Wangyang Lai

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics

Yanan Li

Beijing Normal University (BNU) - Business School

Xiaohui Tian

Renmin University of China

Shanjun Li

Cornell University - School of Applied Economics and Management

Date Written: September 20, 2017

Abstract

By exploring crop production cycles in China, this paper examines the impact of air pollution from agricultural fires on human cognitive health by linking household health survey data with fires recorded by remote sensing. The analysis shows a significant negative impact of fire occurrence on cognitive health from a variety of empirical specifications: senior respondents (aged 55 and above) in counties with higher frequencies of straw fires have lower scores in a test of mental intactness and recall fewer objects in a delayed memory test. The negative effect of straw fires on participants’ test results becomes stronger with age, supporting that air pollution causes the process of cognitive decline to begin earlier. Moreover, the impact is only detected among respondents living in downwind counties but not upwind counties. Our findings demonstrate the link between environmental pollution and age-related cognitive decline and indicate that climate change may increase healthcare costs by increasing the risk of wildfires.

Keywords: agricultural fires, air pollution, climate change, cognitive function

JEL Classification: I18, Q15, Q53

Suggested Citation

Lai, Wangyang and Li, Yanan and Tian, Xiaohui and Li, Shanjun, Air Pollution and Cognitive Function: Evidence from Crop Production Cycles (September 20, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3039935 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3039935

Wangyang Lai (Contact Author)

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics ( email )

111 Wu Chuan Road
Shanghai, 200433
China

Yanan Li

Beijing Normal University (BNU) - Business School ( email )

No.19 Xinwai Str
Haidian District
Beijing, 100875
China

Xiaohui Tian

Renmin University of China ( email )

Room B906
Xianjin Building
Beijing, Beijing 100872
China

Shanjun Li

Cornell University - School of Applied Economics and Management ( email )

248 Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States

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